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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Old Acquaintance? Fuggedaboudit!

I’ve decided to give up acquaintances.

Honestly, I’ve never figured out why we have them in the first place. They’re like pocket handkerchiefs or Ace bandages or those twelve little jars of capers in the back of the fridge. Everybody’s got them — but no one ever uses them. Most of us don’t even know what the hell they’re for. So we ignore them until they’re well past using, and then we have to toss them, anyway.

Well, I’m cutting to the chase. I’m done playing the game. Out.

(Though I’ll hold onto one of the jars. The missus does make a mean chicken piccata — when we manage to keep capers that didn’t go bad three and a half years before dinnertime, anyway.)

Acquaintances, though? No mas.

I’m not out to offend anyone. It’s a simple “risk and reward” calculation. See, I’m an only child. Plus, my memory’s not that great, I don’t listen well, and my “inner monologue” seems to have a mild case of Tourette’s. In other words, I have the approximate social skills of a bipolar hyena homeschooled by wolves.

“In other words, I have the approximate social skills of a bipolar hyena homeschooled by wolves.”

So what can go right when I run into an acquaintance out in the world?

Very freaking little.

And what can go wrong?

Mercy, child. How long you got?

Let’s see — forgetting a name is popular; that’s always a classic. There’s forgetting where we met, how we know each other, and whether I was a complete douche the last time we talked.

(Hint? I was.)

I’ve been known to use the wrong name, to ask singles about their spouses, cat owners about their dogs, and newlyweds “how YOU doin’?” I once introduced myself to the same woman the first four times we met. By the time I remembered her name, we’d shared more confused polite handshakes than a Promise Keepers convention held at the Bunny Ranch.

And what’s the return on the investment, if the effort could even be mustered? I ask you, what can acquaintances do for us? Suggest a new restaurant or offer us a stick a gum?

Bah, I say. They’re probably flavor-hating vegans, and their gum’s full of cloves. See, this is why we didn’t bother getting to know them better in the first place. Shoo!

Mind you, I’m not interested in becoming a hermit. There are still plenty of other types of people I’d keep. Coworkers, for instance. Coworkers are great. They can totally cover for you playing golf on a four-hour lunch break — or better yet, they can come along. And bring the beer. And carry my clubs. Also, I’m not driving — the course is way out Route Nine, and I’m not dealing with that kind of traffic on a Tuesday, dude. What am I, you?

And family — family’s good, too. They’ve usually got spare house keys and kidneys and they might tape Always Sunny for you, plus some of them know how to cook chicken piccata, maybe. Also, you already remember their names and what kind of socks they like for Christmas. So you’ve got to keep family. Clearly.

Then there are friends, best of all. You can go drinking with friends or eat at fancy restaurants or play a game of knockoff Scrabble. Which is great, because people will look at you funny if you do these things alone.

(That’s why there is no game called “Words with Your Own Sorry Loser Ass, Bucko”.

Just like there’s no “Words with Acquaintances”. I think you smell the piccata I’m cookin’.)

These are plenty enough people to keep track of, stay in touch with, and apologize to every time I open my mouth and offend someone in the vicinity. So I’ve decided that’s it — friends, family, coworkers and done. No acquaintances. I’ve got nothing left. Like I said, shoo.

Of course, this leads to some awkward situations. It’s not as though I don’t want to meet new people; I just don’t want to be stuck with them in this mutual social purgatory slog they call ‘acquaintanceship’. Life is short. I want to cut to the chase.

For most people, this is simple. We meet, maybe we chat a bit. Then I stop them and say:

No, I’m sorry. I’m not interested in sharing an office, a beer, or DNA with you. And I’ve got no other openings. So please — move it along. No tears. Just go.

That usually does the trick.

(I mean, of course there are tears. You can’t possibly avoid that. But they leave. And that’s the important thing. For me.)

The tricky part is when a real candidate shows up. Someone who maybe could fill a gap — a fun new friend, or some office jerk who owns his own brewery, or a gal who looks like she ought to be somebody’s grandma. My grandma is hundreds of miles away. Why not find a “helper” granny on the street? What could possibly be wrong about that?

These people, I’ve got to be direct with. I’m not screwing around with acquaintances any more, so we’ve got to move fast or not at all. So when a good fit comes along, I’m ready.

They say, “Hi“, and I say, “Pull your desk over here and loan me your five-wood.

Or they say, “Good to meet you“, and I reply, “Let’s plan a trip to Key West.

Or maybe, “Why are you on my porch, sonny?” and “Put on this apron and make me some cookies, Nana.

Does that ever get me anywhere? No. Is it something sane people do? Possibly not.

But do I have any new acquaintances lately?

No. So long as you don’t count the nice doctor and the guys in white coats, no. No, I do not.

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